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Origins of the Cold War
by Kiva McElhiney - Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 07:33 PM

In the “Origins of the Cold War” lecture, John Lewis Gaddis discusses the many unknown causes of the Cold War and how it came to be. Instead of talking about the present causes of the war, he mainly focused on long term causations that lead to it that started during World War I. Gaddis describes many different things that lead to the war, but the one that stood out to me the most were the points made about Stalin as a leader. In 1929, Stalin was elected into office and made many drastic changes to the way Russia functioned as a country. He aimed to focus on internal industrialization and mobilization. By doing this, he would implement a 5 year plan that relied strongly on agriculture. With this, Russia would become a strong economic and military power. With this new changes occurring under Stalin’s leadership, Russia developed distinctive characteristics making them known as a “police” state (28:30). In the lecture, Gaddis explains what an interesting man Stalin is, and how he really changes the Russian system. Stalin and Hitler had an indescribable trust and respect for one another, they were both able to learn from the other, and had common interests/ideas about the way government should be run. With the new leadership of Stalin, this was when Russia really started to become a strong supporter of a communist society. Eventually, the United States began to get involved when the “Sphere of Influence” began to expand, leading the US to see communism as a threat and danger on their own society. The Sphere of Influence in the Soviet Union was placed there so there were more physical barriers protecting Russia. Unlike the US, with the ocea, Russia was very exposed, so they started expanding their beliefs in order to protect themselves. Another reason why the Soviet Union wanted to be protected so badly had to do with a weird mistrust. The Soviet Union saw potential enemies everywhere, and were constantly paranoid, leading them to really isolate themselves socially and from other forms of government. (44:00). This idea of paranoia also comes from Stalin, somehow we was able to impose his own personality on the state he was running. This ultimately leads to the problems of the cold war because Stalin would never fully trust Roosevelt or Churchill, no matter how convenient it was for him. What I got from the lecture was that isolationism is really what caused the argument. Both the US and the Soviet Union were so obsessed with keeping their own nation safe, they disregarded that working together would actually be beneficial to everyone. For example, what happened at the Yalta Conference with FDR and Stalin. FDR wanted to protect his people at whatever cost, he would do whatever he could to get Stalin on his side, which ultimately led to what the US saw as the “dangerous” sphere of influence. The dispute over the Sphere of Influence and the fear of it, caused by Stalin, was what ultimately led to the Cold War. If the different governments, both the US and the Soviet Union's, had placed more trust in one another and actually collaborated, instead of using fear as an incentive, the Cold War may have never been caused.

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Re: Origins of the Cold War
by Nicholas Reed - Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 08:28 PM

I personally found it very interesting that you concluded with the global purpose of what the yalta conference was supposed to do in the perspective of Stalin and FDR's concept on post WWII foreign policy. I think that would be very important/ interesting if you discussed the reasons for Stalins approach to the conference in the perspective of his militaristic aggresion towards hitter from Germany's backstabbing of the nazi-Soviet pact that gaddis discuss. Good job!

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Re: Origins of the Cold War
by Jamia Yard - Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 09:28 PM

I wonder if Hitler was "paranoid" like Stalin was. It would make sense for him to be and I believe they were alike in this way as well as the ways you described.